Mid-Shore Aviation: Helping Students See the Big Blue Sky of Aviation Careers

One of the most underreported challenges facing American aviation these days is the high demand for jobs in the fields of air traffic control, aviation maintenance, piloting, drone operators, and flight paramedics. In a world that has been pushing vocations like truck driving, EMS technicians, or master welders, the field of aviation tends to get far less attention, but its need for a trained workforce has never been greater.

That’s the point of view of Easton Airport’s newly appointed manager Micah Risher.

Risher, whose own path was dramatically changed when the Trappe native was introduced to the field of aviation as a teenager at the Mid-Shore’s popular airport, has made it a top priority to develop education programs that inform and excite young people about careers that are both high-paying and can be close to home. That is why this year the airport announced the establishment of its own Aviation Careers Education (ACE) program to expose high school students to these high demand, good-paying career opportunities.

Through the use of lessons in flight planning, aviation history, and the physics of flight as well as field trips to aviation-related sites, Easton Airport’s ACE seeks to stimulate student interests that can lead to a secure career down the road.

The Spy caught up with Misah at a recently converted hangar which has now become the new AEC Center at the airport to understand more.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about the Easton Airport please go here

Talbot County Honors Community Impact Leaders

Talbot County business leaders gathered on Friday, May 3 for the 11th Annual Talbot County Business Appreciation Breakfast, an event that celebrates the strength and resiliency of the area’s businesses.

Hosted by the Talbot County Department of Economic Development and Tourism in partnership with the Talbot County Economic Development Commission, the program included comments by Councilwoman Laura Price and a keynote address by Maryland Secretary of Commerce Kelly M. Schulz.

A total of six Community Impact Awards were presented to businesses, organizations, and individuals who positively impacted the Talbot County community over the past year. Each award recipient received an engraved pewter tray, handcrafted in Easton by Salisbury Pewter. Winners included:

Frederick Douglass 200 Committee: Talbot County found itself in the spotlight in 2018 when the world marked the 200th birthday of the great abolitionist, orator, and writer Frederick Douglass. Harriette Lowry of the Frederick Douglass Honor Society pulled together more than 45 local organizations to form the Frederick Douglass 200 Committee. The group created a year-long series of events designed to honor the life and legacy of Talbot County’s most famous native son.

Events included a wreath laying at Douglass statue at the County Courthouse, a February 14 birthday celebration on the banks of the Tuckahoe, a speaker series at the Talbot County Free Library, performances by reenactors throughout the year, and the annual Frederick Douglass Day celebration. These events laid the groundwork for future efforts to create tourism products to tell the story of Douglass’ youth and to attract visitors looking for Frederick Douglass.

Kelley Phillips Cox: A native of Tilghman Island, Cox is the founder and executive director of Phillips Wharf Environmental Center, a non-profit organization that provides hands-on experiences and education with the animals and plants that inhabit the Chesapeake Bay region. She launched her own aquaculture farm and oyster brand, appropriately named Fisherman’s Daughter. She also operates an aquaculture training program to educate a new generation of watermen.

Kelley is actively involved with numerous regional organizations, including the Maryland Association of Outdoor and Environmental Educators, Mid-Atlantic Marine Educators Association, National Marine Educators Association, National Science Teachers Association, and Maryland Oyster Advisory Commission. She is the recipient of the 2014 Robert Finton Maryland Environmental Educator of the Year Award from Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education.

Out of the Fire Restaurant: For 19 years. Restaurateur Amy Haines has brought not only fine food, but jobs to Talbot County. High school students get their first work experience at Out of the Fire. Gifted chefs show their talents with food locally sourced food. Haines has created an oasis of excellent, locally sourced food in a congenial atmosphere. Her support of farmers, artists, and community projects is a source of inspiration, as is the excellent work environment she has created for employees. The business motto at Out of the Fire is “Eat well. Be well. Give back.”

RAUCH inc.: This engineering company has provided innovative development concepts and cost-effective design services to its clients for more than 30 years. Local projects include the ongoing renovation of the Historic Avalon Theatre, the current expansion of Easton Premier Cinemas, the renovation of the Tred Avon Shopping Center, and the development of The Easton Club and Chesapeake del Webb. Rauch inc. recently announced that it will begin development of the Lakeside Community in Trappe that will feature a range of housing options.

The company has also partnered with Talbot County Public Schools and Junior Achievement to provide internship and career path programs and has been active in the ACE mentoring program for both engineering and architecture.  RAUCH inc. is currently partnering with Chesapeake College to develop coursework for paths in skilled trades. In 2018, it partnered with the Bryan Foundation to raise $20,000 for their “Building Dreams for Youth” campaign.

Talbot Mentors: Executive Director Gerson Martinez believes that one-on-one mentoring can change lives. The non-profit organization connects young people with adult role models who reinforce the positive values and standards that will help them achieve their full potential. Over the years, hundreds of Talbot County youth have been mentored and more than 100 Talbot County kids are paired with mentors this year.

Wylder Hotel Tilghman Island: Opened in April 2018, this property is the rebirth of an original 1898 boarding house where waterman ran the docks and crabs were piled high on picnic tables. The hotel sits on 9 acres and features 54 newly designed guest rooms, a restaurant, a crab shack, two bars,1,100 feet of waterfront, 25 boat slips on two docks, and a state-of-the-art saltwater heated pool with a pool deck. A New Yorker by birth, owner John Flannigan visited Tilghman often during his college days and fell in love with the island’s rustic beauty and charm.

Photography by Tom McCall

Easton Town Council: The Race for Ward 2

It might be one of the best-kept secrets in Talbot County, but there is an election set for May 7 in Easton. Perhaps this is because most of the candidates running are unopposed.  In addition to Mayor Bob Willey, Incumbent Alan Silverstein in Ward 1 and incumbent Ronald Engle from Ward 3 face no challenger this time around.

But the Spy has taken a particular interest in the Ward 2 election since it will determine who will replace Pete Lesher on the Easton Town Council. Two candidates, Donald Abbatiello, and Talbot Bone, both highly respected community leaders, will face each other that day.

We asked both Tal and Don to come to the Bullitt House last week to talk about their different backgrounds, their motivation in seeking the town council seat, and their priorities if they succeed in the upcoming election.

Don Abbatiello

Talbot Bone

These videos are approximately fifteen minutes in length.

Rallying Around Talbot County’s Flags for Heroes

Once again, the Rotary Club of Easton will be rallying around their highly successful “Flags For Heroes” campaign come this Memorial Day weekend. Inspired to not only remind the general public of the importance of the country’s service men and women who died in defending their country, the Flags for Heroes program raises almost $50,000 a year to help vet programs throughout Talbot County to serve those physically or mentally wounded as a result of their time in the Armed Services.

The Spy sat down with two of the Flags for Heroes lead volunteers, John Flohr, and Jackie Wilson, to talk about the upcoming campaign and the importance of the community giving back to our brave veterans.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. To donate to Flags for Heroes, please go here for more information

Short-Term Rental Properties Licenses Required in Talbot County

If you have ever rented a home for a weekend or even a week, you have stayed in a short-term rental (STR). STRs are advertised on sites such as VRBO, HomeAway, Airbnb and other rental sites. For homeowners who rent their homes on a short-term basis, it’s important to know whether the city, town or county where it is located permits STRs, and if so, whether there are rules and regulations to abide by.

In Talbot County, a home can be rented short-term to visitors for a minimum three-night stay and the maximum stay cannot exceed 14 weeks. To lease a home on a short-term basis, homeowners are required to obtain a STR license through the Department of Planning and Zoning and pay the Talbot County Public Accommodations Tax; unlicensed short-term rentals are prohibited.

Talbot County recently contracted with STR Helper™ to monitor compliance in the County. Each week, a sweep of local and national online rental listing sites is conducted to identify property owners that are listing STRs. The sweep helps to identify listings that are advertising without a license. Even if an advertisement has been discontinued and moved to another site, the STR Helper™ system will track both the live and discontinued advertisements. County Code Enforcement staff are notified of the violation and enforcement actions are pursued.

In 2018, Talbot County updated the regulations for STRs as part of the update to Chapter 190 of the Talbot County Code (Zoning, Subdivision and Land Development). The updated regulations provided a six-month grace period for homeowners advertising and renting their homes on a short-term basis without a license to comply with the updated regulations.

The six-month grace period is ending soon. For current homeowners advertising and operating a STR without a license, it’s imperative that you obtain additional information on the program and apply for a license; anyone operating or advertising an unlicensed short-term rental (STR) after May 10, 2019, is subject to a fine of not less than $500. In addition, you cannot apply for a license for a period of 12 months from the date of the violation.

There are many steps involved with applying for a STR license, including notification to surrounding property owners, obtaining a satisfactory water quality report, and providing to-scale site and floor plans. Once the application is submitted, the home will be inspected for compliance with zoning requirements as well as compliance with safety requirements related to smoke alarm and fire extinguisher locations, emergency escape and rescue openings, and means of egress. If the home is on septic, the Talbot County Health Department will also inspect the property regarding the adequacy of the system. Once all the required materials have been submitted, and the inspections have been completed, the license application is scheduled for review by the County’s Short-Term Rental Review Board at a public hearing.

Information on the process and the license application can be found on the Planning and Zoning Department webpage located at www.talbotcountymd.gov. New licenses are eligible to be accepted in the upcoming months of July and August. In the meantime, you should not operate or advertise your STR until your license is approved. STRs operating or advertising without license approval are subject to penalties.

Further information or assistance may be obtained during normal business hours by calling the Planning Office at 410-770-8030.

Mourners gather in Annapolis to honor Michael Busch

Members of the Maryland General Assembly on Monday solemnly lined up outside the State House, as bagpipes played and state troopers carried in the casket of the late House Speaker Michael Busch, followed by his family.

Politicians, dignitaries and the general public gathered in the Maryland State House to pay their respects to the longtime speaker of the House.

Busch, D-Anne Arundel, died April 7, just one day before the last day of the legislative session — known as Sine Die — while being treated for pneumonia. He was 72.

A Maryland State Police procession escorted Busch’s casket — draped in a Maryland flag — and his family through a windy downtown Annapolis before stopping in the rotunda of the State House to lie in repose.

The members of the General Assembly filed in after the procession, while the public made their way through the opposite entrance of the building. Others filled the sidewalks and the grassy area outside the State House.

Several dignitaries, including Gov. Larry Hogan, R, gave remarks before the public visitation.

“Few have served Maryland with as much passion and dedication as Mike Busch did,” Hogan said early Monday afternoon. “And few will leave this earth as well-loved and esteemed as he was.”

Former United States Sen. Barbara Mikulski referred to Busch as “coach,” and Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, lauded his commitment to Maryland over the years.

Delegate Maggie McIntosh, D-Baltimore, teared up while speaking, calling Busch a “leader” and “friend.”

After the remarks, members of the General Assembly walked past Busch’s casket, some closing their eyes to say a prayer, and briefly speaking with Busch’s family before exiting the State House.

Another public visitation is scheduled for Tuesday before a procession escorting the casket for the funeral service. Following the service, Hogan is expected to present Busch’s family — his wife, Cindy, and daughters Erin and Megan — with the Maryland state flag from Busch’s casket.

According to a spokeswoman for Hogan, the governor has not yet received a request to call a special session to vote for a new House speaker.

By Daniel Oyefusi


Bone Files for Easton Town Council

Talbot Bone, a resident of Brookletts Ave, has filed to run for the Ward 2 seat on the Easton Town Council on May 7. Most people know him by his nickname, Tal.

Having served the Town in other capacities, Tal decided he could contribute sitting on the town council in the Ward 2 seat vacated by Pete Lesher. Ward 2 encompasses several neighborhoods south of Brookletts Avenue between Washington St and Aurora St, those neighborhoods encompassed by Easton Parkway, Peachblossom Rd, and Idlewild Ave. Additionally, the neighborhoods of Mulberry Station, Golton, Matthewstown Run, and Hunter’s Mill are part of Ward 2.

Tal intends to focus much of his energy on developing starter homes for teachers, police officers, nurses and other young professional entering the workforce; developing Easton Point and connecting it to downtown; and supporting our police and volunteer fire department to make our neighborhood safer, including strong efforts to combat substance abuse. Working with Talbot County, Tal hopes to significantly reduce the number of false alarms for the volunteer fire department of Easton and other communities.

Starter Homes: Many of our young professionals can not afford to live in Easton because the housing is too expensive. As a result, many of these individuals live in other counties and commute to work in Easton. Some efforts have been made to improve the housing situation, but not enough. Tal plans to work with architects, property owners, builders, and financial institutions to focus attention on this short fall in Easton’s housing inventory. We must move forward faster so that our teachers, nurses, and police can live in our community.

Easton Point & Historic Downtown: Several properties on Easton Point have been annexed into Easton and zoning is being finalized. Developing Easton Point and connecting it to downtown Easton gives us the opportunity to construct homes and businesses within the town’s boundaries and reduce the pressure to expand into existing farm land. Mixed use buildings ,i.e. shops and businesses on the first floor and apartments or condos on the higher floors will provide a solid basis for improving the viability of business such as restaurants, boutiques, and entertainment. It is critically important to do this in a manner that does not adversely impact historic downtown Easton. A vibrant Easton will help everyone that lives and works here.

Safety: Our fire and police departments are confronted by a problem of which many are unaware. During the night, pagers and cell phones go off alerting Easton Volunteer Fire Department members and Easton police of a fire. These automatic alarms, all too often, are false. These false alarms cause ware and tear on our equipment and can be frustrating to the individuals that respond at all hours of the night. False alarms can also deflect resources from a real emergency. A focused effort at identifying and correcting the causes for false alarms could significantly reduce the costs in both equipment and personnel. Another drain on our police force is the opioid crisis and other drug abuse. Tal fully support Sheriff Joe Gamble’s efforts through the Talbot Goes Purple Project.

A safe environment is key to a successful town. Developing starter homes, developing Easton Point and revitalization of downtown Easton will provide an environment to attract new business. This new vitality will attract teachers, police candidates, nurses, and fire fighters to stay in Easton to live and work. When that happens everyone benefits.

Tal and his wife Chris have been residents of Easton since 2002. Tal retired from Easton Utilities where he was the Manager for Engineering, Water & Wastewater. Prior to working at Easton Utilities, Tal retired as a Captain in the U. S. Navy. He has been a 10 year mentor for the ACE program and helped raise over $100,000 in scholarships for graduates of Talbot County and SSPP High Schools. He has also spent time helping 2nd and 3rd graders improve their reading skills.

Tal is also a volunteer with Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore teaching 3rd, 4th, and 7th graders about entrepreneurship and financial responsibility. He graduated from North Carolina State University with a bachelors of Civil Engineering and has a master’s degree in Engineering from the University of Texas. Tal is the current Chairman of the Town of Easton’s Planning & Zoning Commission and has been a member of that commission for 4 years. Tal is also a Deacon of Presbyterian Church in Easton.

John Dillon Resigns From UM Shore Regional Health Board Of Directors

John Dillon, chairman of the University of Maryland Shore Regional Health Board of Directors, has announced his resignation from the Board, effective immediately.

Dillon, whose tenure on the Board was set to end on June 30, 2019, notified the Board of his resignationApril 9, citing his belief that leaving the Board at this time is in the best interest of UM Shore Regional Health to minimize the distraction caused by current discussions regarding University of Maryland Medical System Board relationships.

“With regret, the Board of Directors has accepted John Dillon’s resignation, effective immediately,” says Board Vice Chairman Richard Loeffler. “ We are grateful to John for his years of service to UM Shore Regional Health and appreciate that his decision to step down is in an effort to allow the organization’s Board and leadership to remain singularly focused on our mission to create healthier communities together.”

Richard Loeffler, UM SRH Vice Chair, of Cambridge, will serve as Acting UM SRH Board Chair until July 1, 2019 when new officers are confirmed.


KKK Rears Ugly Head in St. Michaels

Maryland State Police are investigating the distribution of racist literature found in a Talbot County community over the weekend.

On the morning of March 31, 2019, a resident of St. Michaels contacted the Easton Barrack and reported racist literature had been found distributed in driveways in the community. A trooper responded and his subsequent investigation found that the material had been left at residences predominantly in the area of Riverview Terrace and Cove Road in St. Michaels.

The printed material indicates it is produced by the Ku Klux Klan. It espouses racist views towardAfrican Americans, Jewish people, American Indians, and others. The material also solicits people to join the KKK. The flyers were found in clear plastic baggies. The bags also contained birdseed, which provides weight, enabling the package to be thrown into a driveway and remain there.

The trooper forwarded information from his investigation to the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center, the state’s fusion center, where local, state and federal authorities, including the FBI, were made aware of the incident. Information was also provided to the Eastern Shore Information Center, which is a local multi-jurisdictional task force of law enforcement agencies in the region.

This is being documented as a hate/bias incident as per the Maryland Public Safety Article Title 2-307.

However, the investigation has not established evidence that a crime has been committed. Troopers and allied law enforcement agencies will continue to document incidents like this and investigate them thoroughly. If elements of a crime are found, immediate action will be taken in cooperation with the
local state’s attorney’s office.

Any hate/bias incident, to include literature distributed in this way, should be reported to local law enforcement. In addition, the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center tips line is always available at 1-800-492-TIPS(8477), where citizens can report suspicious activity possibly related to terrorism or
violent crime. The information will then be communicated to the appropriate local, state or federal law enforcement agency for follow-up.


Md. House overrides Hogan Veto: Schools Can Now Start Before Labor Day

Maryland school districts will now have the ability to again start their school year before Labor Day, overturning a previous executive order by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

One day after the Maryland Senate voted to override Hogan’s veto of a bill that would give power to local school boards to determine their respective calendars, the House of Delegates voted Friday to override the measure as well.

The House voted 93-43 to join the Senate in overriding Hogan’s veto.

Delegate Anne Healey, D-Prince George’s, who served on a year-long task force to study a post-Labor Day start for Maryland public schools, said Hogan’s veto “short circuited” the work of the task force.

Healey said more flexibility was required for schools that needed to account for additional religious holidays and athletics.

Delegate Haven Shoemaker, R-Carroll, argued against overriding the veto, pointing to numerous businesses that would benefit from the additional week of summer vacation.

On Thursday, the Senate voted 32-15 along party lines to override Hogan’s veto.

Hogan on Wednesday vetoed Senate bill 128, saying that the legislation “unravels years of bipartisan work and study” and citing polls revealing that the bill runs counter to the wishes of most Marylanders.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George’s, overturns Hogan’s 2016 executive order mandating schools start after Labor Day.

“The executive order does not respect the diversity of our state,” said Delegate Eric Luedtke, D-Montgomery.

This was the last of three veto overrides to occur this week. Both chambers also voted Thursday to override Hogan’s veto of a bill to strip alcohol and tobacco regulation from the state comptroller, and a bill to gradually increase the minimum wage to $15.

By Daniel Oyefusi

CNS reporter Natalie Jones contributed to this story

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